21st of December, 1521

Saturday, the 2lst December, day of St. Thomas the Apostle, the King of Tadore came to the ships and brought us the two pilots, whom we had already paid, to conduct us out of these islands. They said that the weather was then good for sailing at once, but, having to wait for the letters of our companions who remained behind, and who wished to write to Spain, we could not sail till midday. Then the ships took leave of one another by a mutual discharge of bombards. Our men accompanied us for some distance with their boat, and then with tears and embraces we separated. Juan Carvalho remained at Tadore with fifty-three of our men; we were forty-seven Europeans and thirteen Indians.

The king’s governor[248] came with us as far as the island of Mare: we had hardly arrived there when four prahus laden with wood came up, which in less than an hour we got on board. We then took the south-west course.

In all the above-mentioned islands of Maluco are to be found cloves, ginger, sagu, which is their bread made of wood, rice, cocoa-nuts, plantains, almonds larger than ours, sweet and bitter pomegranates, sugar-canes, oil of cocoa and of sesame, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, comilicai,[249] which is a refreshing fruit the size of a water-melon, another fruit like a peach called guave, and other eatable vegetables. They also have goats and fowls, honey produced by bees not larger than ants, which make their hives in trunks of trees. There are also parrots of many kinds, and amongst them there are white ones called Catara, and red ones called Nori, which are the most sought after, not so much for the beauty of their plumage, as because they talk more clearly. One of these is sold for a bahar of cloves.

It is hardly fifty years since the Moors conquered Maluco and dwelt there. Before that, these islands were inhabited only by Gentiles, who did not care for the cloves. There are still some families of them who have taken refuge in the mountains, where the cloves grow.

The island of Tadore is in 0 deg. 27 min. North latitude, and 161 deg. west of the line of demarcation;[250] it is 9 deg. 30 min. distant from the first island of this archipelago, named Zamal, to the south-east and a quarter south. The island of Tarenate is in 0 deg. 40 min. of N. latitude. Mutir is exactly under the equinoctial line. Machian is in 0 deg. 15 min. S. latitude, and Bachian in 1 deg. of the same latitude. Tarenate, Tadore, Mutir, and Machian, are like four high and pointed mountains,[251] upon which the clove trees grow. Bachian is not visible from these four islands, but it is a larger island than any of those. Its clove mountain is not so high nor so pointed as those of the other islands, but it has a larger base.


(Book IV of the Milan Edition.)

Return from the Moluccas to Spain

Pursuing our voyage, after having taken in wood at the islet of Mare, we passed between the following islands:—Caioan, Laigoma, Sico, Giogi, Cafi, Laboan [252]Toliman, Titameti, Bachian, Latalata, Jabobi, Mata, and Batutiga. They told us that in the island of Cafi the people were small and dwarfed like the Pigmies; they have been subjected by force by the King of Tadore. We passed outside of Batutiga to the west, and we steered between west and south-west, and we discovered some islets to the south, on which account the pilots of Maluco said it would be better to cast anchor so as not to drift at night among many islets and shoals. We, therefore, altered our course to south-east, and went to an island situated in 2 deg. S. latitude, and fifty-three leagues from Maluco.

This island is named Sulach;[253] its inhabitants are Gentiles, and have not got a king. They eat human flesh; both men and women go naked, except a piece of the bark of a tree of two fingers’ breath before their natural parts. There are many other islands around here inhabited by anthropophagi. These are the names of some of them:—Silan, Noselao, Biga, Atulabaon, Leitimor, Tenetum, Gonda, Kailaruru, Mandan and Benaia.[254] We left to the east the islands named Lamatola and Tenetum.

Having run ten leagues from Sulach in the same direction, we went to a rather large island named Buru, in which we found plenty of victuals, such as pigs, goats, fowls, sugar-canes, cocoa-nuts, sagu, a certain food of theirs made of bananas called kanali,and chiacare, which here they call Nanga.[255]The chiacare are fruit like water-melons, but knotty on the outside; inside they have some small red fruit like plums, they have not got a stone in the middle, but instead of that have a certain pith like a white bean, but larger, they are tender to eat like chestnuts. We found here another fruit which externally is like a pine cone, and it is yellow, but white inside; on cutting, it is something like a pear, but much softer and better tasted. Here it is called comilicai. The inhabitants of this island are Gentiles, and have no king: they go naked like those of Sulach. The island of Buru is in 3 deg. 30 min. S. latitude, and seventy-five leagues from Maluco.

To the east of this island, at a distance of ten leagues, there is another one larger, and which borders on Giailolo, and it is named Ambon.[256] It is inhabited by Moors and Gentiles, but the former are on the sea shore, and the others in the interior; these are also anthropophagi. The products of this island are the same as those of Buru. Between Buru and Ambon, there are three islands surrounded by reefs named Vudia, Kailaruru and Benaia. To the south of Buru, at a distance of four leagues, is another small island named Ambalao.

At thirty-five leagues from Buru, south and a quarter south-west, is Bandan, with thirteen other islands. In six of them grow mace and nutmeg. Zoroboa is the largest of them, Chelicel, Saniananpi, Pulai, Puluru, and Rasoghin, the other six are Unuveru, Pulanbaracan, Lailaca, Mamica, Man, and Meut. In these islands nutmegs are not found, but only sagu, rice, cocoanuts, bananas, and other fruits, and they are near one another. The inhabitants of these are Moors, and have no king. Bandan is in 6 deg. of S. latitude, and 163 deg. 30 min. longitude from the line of demarcation. As this island was a little out of our course, we did not go to it.

Leaving the island of Buru in the direction south-west and a quarter west, about eight degrees of latitude,[257]we arrived at three other islands near each other named Zolot,[258] Nocemamor, and Galian. Whilst we sailed amidst these islands, a great storm fell upon us, for which we made a vow of a pilgrimage to our Lady della Guida. We put the ship before the storm and made for a rather high island, which afterwards we learned was named Mallua, but before we could reach it, we had to struggle much with the squalls of wind which descended from the mountains and with the currents. The inhabitants of this island are savages, and more beasts than men; they eat human flesh; they go naked, except the usual piece of bark to cover their natural parts. But when they go to fight they wear on the back, the breast, and the flanks, pieces of buffalo hide, ornamented with shells,[259] and boars’ tusks, and tails of goat skins, hanging before and behind. They wear the hair raised high up by means of cane combs with long teeth, which go through it. They wrap up their beards with leaves, and enclose them in cases or tubes of reed, a thing which seemed to us very ridiculous. In one word these were the ugliest men we had seen in these Indies. Both their bows and arrows are made of reeds, and they carry their food in bags made of leaves. When their women saw us they came towards us with their bows drawn, but when we had given them some presents we soon became friends.

We passed fifteen days in this island in caulking the ship whose sides had suffered. We found here goats, fowls, wax, cocoanuts, and pepper. For a pound of old iron they gave fifteen pounds of wax or of pepper.

There are two kinds of pepper here, the long and the round. The long pepper is like the flower of the hazel tree in winter; its plant is like ivy, and like it clings to trees; its leaves are like those of the mulberry tree; it is called luli. The round pepper grows like the other, but its fruit is in ears like Indian corn, and the grains are pulled off in the same manner; it is called lada. The fields here are full of pepper plants.

Here we took a man to conduct us to some island where we could find plenty of victuals.

The island of Mallua is in 8 deg. 30 min. S. latitude, and 169 deg. 40 min. longitude from the line of demarcation.

The old pilot from Maluco related to us, whilst sailing, that in this neighbourhood there was an island named Aruchete, the inhabitants of which, men and women, are not more than one cubit high, and they have ears as large and as long as themselves, so that when they lie down one serves them for a mattress, and with the other they cover themselves.[260] They are shorn and naked, their voices are shrill, and they run very swiftly. They dwell under ground, live on fish and a certain substance which grows between the bark and the wood of a tree, which is white and round like coriander comfits, and which is named ambulon. We would have gone there willingly, but the shoals and currents did not allow of it.


29th of July, 1521

On Monday, the 29th of July, we saw coming towards us more than a hundred prahus, divided into three squadrons, and as many tungulis, which are their smaller kind of boats. At this sight, and fearing treachery, we hurriedly set sail, and left behind an anchor in the sea. Our suspicions increased when we observed that behind us were certain junks which had come the day before. Our first operation was to free ourselves from the junks, against which we fired, capturing four and killing many people: three or four other junks went aground in escaping. In one of those which we captured was a son of the king of the isle of Luzon, who was captain-general of the King of Burné, and who was coming with the junks from the conquest of a great city named Laoe, situated on a headland of this island opposite Java Major. He had made this expedition and sacked that city because its inhabitants wished rather to obey the King of Java than the Moorish King of Burné. The Moorish king having heard of the ill-treatment by us of his junks, hastened to send to say, by means of one of our men who was on shore to traffic, that those vessels had not come to do any harm to us, but were going to make war against the Gentiles, in proof of which they showed us some of the heads of those they had slain.

Hearing this, we sent to tell the king that if it was so, that he should allow two of our men who were still on shore, with a son of our pilot, Juan Carvalho, to come to the ships: this son of Carvalho’s had been born during his first residence in the country of Brazil: but the king would not consent. Juan Carvalho was thus specially punished, for without communicating the matter to us, in order to obtain a large sum of gold, as we learned later, he had given his liberty to the captain of the junks. If he had detained him, the King Siripada would have given anything to get him back, that captain being exceedingly dreaded by the Gentiles who are most hostile to the Moorish king.

And, with respect to that, it is well to know and understand that in that same port where we were, beyond the city of the Moors of which I have spoken, there is another inhabited by Gentiles, larger than this one, and also built in the salt water. So great is the enmity between the two nations that every day there occurs strife. The king of the Gentiles is as powerful as the king of the Moors, but he is not so proud; and it seems that it would not be so difficult to introduce the Christian religion into his country.[207]

As we could not get back our men, we retained on board sixteen of the chiefs, and three ladies whom we had taken on board the junks, to take them to Spain, We had destined the ladies for the Queen; but Juan Carvalho kept them for himself.

The Moors of Burné go naked like the other islanders. They esteem quicksilver very much, and swallow it. They pretend that it preserves the health of those who are well, and that it cures the sick. They venerate Mahomed and follow his law. They do not eat pig’s flesh…..[208] With their right hand they wash their face, but do not wash their teeth with their fingers. They are circumcised like the Jews. They never kill goats or fowls without first speaking to the sun.[209] They cut off the ends of the wings of fowls and the skin under their feet, and then split them in two. They do not eat any animal which has not been killed by themselves.

In this island is produced camphor, a kind of balsam which exudes from between the bark and the wood of the tree. These drops are small as grains of bran. If it is left exposed by degrees it is consumed: here it is called capor. Here is found also cinnamon, ginger, mirabolans, oranges, lemons, sugarcanes, melons, gourds, cucumbers, cabbage, onions. There are also many animals, such as elephants, horses, buffaloes, pigs, goats, fowls, geese, crows, and others.

They say that the King of Burné has two pearls as large as a hen’s eggs, and so perfectly round that if placed on a smooth table they cannot be made to stand still. When we took him the presents I made signs to him that I desired to see them, and he said that he would show them to me, but he did not do so. On the following day some of the chief men told me that they had indeed seen them.

The money which the Moors use in this country is of metal,[210] and pierced for stringing together. On one side only it has four signs, which are four letters of the great King of China: they call it Picis.[211] For one cathil (a weight equal to two of our pounds) of quicksilver they gave us six porcelain dishes, for a cathil of metal they gave one small porcelain vase, and a large vase for three knives. For a hand of paper they gave one hundred picis. A bahar of wax (which is two hundred and three cathils) for one hundred and sixty cathils of bronze: for eighty cathils a bahar of salt: for forty cathils a bahar of anime, a gum which they use to caulk ships, for in these countries they have no pitch. Twenty tabil make a cathil. The merchandise which is most esteemed here is bronze, quicksilver, cinnabar, glass, woollen stuffs, linens; but above all they esteem iron and spectacles.

Since I saw such use made of porcelain, I got some information respecting it, and I learned that it is made with a kind of very white earth, which is left underground for fully fifty years to refine it, so that they are in the habit of saying that the father buries it for his son. It is said that if poison is put into a vessel of fine porcelain it breaks immediately.

The junks mentioned several times above are their largest vessels, and they are constructed in this manner. The lower part of the ships and the sides to a height of two spans above water-line are built of planks joined together with wooden bolts, and they are well enough put together. The upper works are made of very large canes for a counterpoise.[212] One of these junks carries as much cargo as our ships. The masts are of bamboo, and the sails of bark of trees. This island is so large that to sail round it with a prahu would require three months. It is in 5° 15′ north latitude and 176° 40′ of longitude from the line of demarcation.[213]

On leaving this island we returned backwards to look for a convenient place for caulking our ships, which were leaking, and one of them, through the negligence of the pilot, struck on a shoal near an island named Bibalon;[214] but, by the help of God, we got her off. We also ran another great danger, for a sailor, in snuffing a candle, threw the lighted wick into a chest of gunpowder; but he was so quick in picking it out that the powder did not catch fire.

On our way we saw four prahus. We took one laden with cocoanuts on its way to Burné; but the crew escaped to a small island, and the other three prahus escaped behind some other small islands.

Between the northern cape of Burné; and the island named Cimbonbon, situated in 8° 7′ N. latitude there is a very convenient port for refitting ships, and we entered it; but as we were wanting many things necessary for our work, we had to spend there forty-two days. Each one worked at one thing or another according to the best of his knowledge or ability; but our greatest labour was going to get wood in the thickets, as the ground was covered with briars and thorny shrubs, and we had no shoes.

In this island there are some very large wild boars. Whilst we were in a boat we killed one which was crossing from one island to another. Its head was two and a half spans long, and its tusks were exceedingly long.[215] Here also are crocodiles; those of the land are larger than those of the sea-coast. There are oysters and very large turtles; of these we caught two. The flesh alone of one of them weighed twenty pounds, and of the other forty-four pounds. We caught a kind of fish with a head like that of a pig, and which had two horns; its body was all covered with bone, and on its back it had a kind of saddle: this was a small one. In this island are also found certain trees, the leaves of which, when they fall, are animated, and walk. They are like the leaves of the mulberry tree, but not so long; they have the leaf stalk[216] short and pointed, and near the leaf stalk they have on each side two feet. If they are touched they escape, but if crushed they do not give out blood.[217] I kept one for nine days in a box. When I opened it the leaf went round the box. I believe they live upon air. The island in which we were is called Pulaoan.

On leaving this island—that is to say, the port which is at the extremity of it—we met a junk which was coming from Borneo. We made signals to it to strike its sails; but as it would not obey we overtook it, captured and pillaged it. It had on board the Governor of Pulaoan, with a son and a brother of his. We made them all prisoners, and put them to ransom to give within seven days four hundred measures of rice, twenty pigs, as many goats, and four hundred and fifty fowls. They caused all this to be given us, and besides added spontaneously cocoanuts, figs, sugarcanes, and vessels full of palm wine. We, in consequence of his generosity, restored to him some of his daggers and arquebuses; we also gave him a flag, a garment of yellow damask, and fifteen ells of linen. We gave to his son a cloak of blue cloth, and to his brother a garment of green cloth, and to the others other things, and we parted good friends.

We turned backwards, passing between the island of Cagayan and the port of Cipit,[218] taking a course east and a quarter south-east, to seek the islands of Maluco. We passed between certain little mountains,[219] around which we found many weeds, although there was there a great depth. Passing between these islets it seemed that we were in another sea.

Having left Cipit to the east, we saw to the west two islands called Zolo[220] and Taghima,[221] near which islands pearls are found. The two pearls of the King of Burné, of which I have spoken, were found there, and this is the manner in which he obtained them, according to the account which was given me of it. The King of Burné married a daughter of the King of Zolo, who told him that her father had these two big pearls. He desired to have them, and decided on getting them by any means, and one night he set out with five hundred prahus full of armed men, and went to Zolo, and took the king with his two sons, and brought them to Burné, and did not restore them to liberty until they gave him the two pearls.

Continuing our course east and a quarter north-east we passed near two inhabited places called Cavit and Subanin, and passed near an island called Monoripa, ten leagues distant from the before-mentioned islets. The inhabitants of this island always live in their vessels, and have no houses on shore. In these two districts of Cavit and Subanin, which are situated in the same island[222] as that in which are Butuan and Calagan, the best cinnamon of any grows. If we could have remained here only two days, we could have laden the ships with it; but we did not wish to lose time, but to profit by the favourable wind, for we had to double a cape and some islets which were around it. Wherefore, remaining under sail, we made a little barter, and obtained seventeen pounds of cinnamon for two big knives, which we had taken from the Governor of Pulaoan.

Having seen the cinnamon tree, I can give some description of it. It is a small tree, not more than three or four cubits high, and of the thickness of a man’s finger, and it has not got more than three or four little branches. Its leaf is like that of the laurel. The cinnamon for use which comes to us, is its bark, which is gathered twice in the year. Its wood and leaves when they are green have the taste and force of the bark itself. Here it is called Cainmana, since cain means wood and mana sweet.[223]

Having set the head of the ship to north-east, we made for a large city called Maingdanao, situated in the same island in which are Butuan and Calagan, in order to get precise information of the position of Maluco. Following this course we took possession of a bignaday, a vessel similar to a prahu, and being obliged to have recourse to force and violence, we killed seven out of eighteen men who formed the crew. These men were better made and more robust than all those we had seen hitherto, and they were all chief men of Mindanao. There was among them a brother of the king who said that he well knew where Maluco was. Afterwards, following his indications, we left the north-east course which we held, and took a south-east course. We were then in 6° 7′ N. latitude and thirty leagues distant fom Cavit.

We were told that at a cape of this island near to a river there are men who are rather hairy, great warriors, and good archers, armed with swords a span broad. When they make an enemy prisoner they eat his heart only, and they eat it raw with the juice of oranges or lemons.[224] This cape is called Benaian.[225]